Terry Scott Taylor
John Wayne

It must be nice to have so many songs floating around inside you. Terry Taylor, the man behind the bands Daniel Amos, The Swirling Eddies, Lost Dogs, and the music for the videogame Neverhood has released John Wayne, a collection of ten songs under his own name. Stylistically, John Wayne is a mixture of the raw sound of Bibleland and the introspective lyrics of Songs of the Heart, both released by the band Daniel Amos. The album opens with "Writer's Block", an ominous, orchestral, epic song backed by aggressive strings. "Mr. Flutter" is a Byrds-influenced rock piece continuing the theme of the previous song with "I'm tryin' to write a song but I don't have the words and my kids need a doctor but I'm not insured and my wife she looks pale, she got the check in the mail and it's not the amount we were thinking about." "Boomtown" is a rolling rocker that is rounded out perfectly by the slippery, noodling bass line of Tim Chandler, my personal favorite bassist. "You Told Them Exactly What I Didn't Say" shows the influence of Dylan while "Big Shot & Miniature Girl" has a John Lennon meets Beachboys feel to it that would have made it at home on the Zoom Daddy Swirling Eddies album. "Ten Gallon Hat" is a humorous country song about having "a ten gallon hat over my devil horns" with a simple, sticky melody and the obligatory slide lap steel guitar. As a compliment to the dark "Writer's Block", Taylor answers his own questions with the profound "Chicken Crosses the Road", a sad, resigned song where he contemplates his position in life, ending with the lyrics "find what you need in what you've got." While this would have been a perfect album closer, Taylor does one better, showing his ability to craft songs that are not only catchy but beautiful as well with the breathtaking "You Lay Down". While not his best work, this is a solid release with scads of rich Beachboys/Beatles harmonies, horribly memorable melodies, Tim Chandler's incredibly creative bass work, and honest lyrics, all combined into ten energetic, enthusiastic songs that reveal the amazing songwriting abilities of a man proving he is more than a musical footnote.

This review first appeared in WhatzUp, July 1999.